Biggest Reorganization in Company History

Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) CEO Patrick Thomas and CIO Kurt De Ruwe carried out a four-year digital transformation called “ProgramOne – Change is happening” at Bayer MaterialScience, which is primarily about a new way of working: historically grown boundaries between departments and countries need to go.

For CIO De Ruwe ProgramOne was a mammoth task. The time line for the roll-out is tight, the coordination complexity from business process design and software development to end-user training is vast.

“But it is not about IT”, De Ruwe says. “First and foremost it is about the attitude and way of thinking of the employees.” If those in charge are unable to change the overall mindset, BMS would face what happened to many companies which failed at radical process changes: experts estimate that about 70% of all reengineering projects clearly miss their targets.

To avoid such failure, De Ruwe relies on extensive and continuous communication and consequent training. In over 30,000 sequences of face-to-face and online courses, employees learn how to use SAP and how to work within the new processes.

However, De Ruwe does not go easy on the employees. “If I want to change the mindset of people, I have to get them out of their comfort zone” De Ruwe says. CEO Thomas agrees: “I don’t pay my CIO to be nice”, he says. “I pay him to be challenging.”

The last roll-out in Asia in January 2012 marked the final stage of Program One. The result speaks for itself: the number of deviations from the standard has been reduced from several thousands to 400. 95% of financial data now flow into one book, compared to maximal 75% before. The automated process saves BMS around 50 million Euro annually. The external costs of about 80 million Euro will be brought back in in under two years.

Read the full article (in German) here.

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